Politics
1:25 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Singer Clay Aiken Announces Run for Congress

Singer-songwriter Clay Aiken announced Wednesday morning that he is putting his entertainment career on hold in order to run for Congress.

Clay Aiken, in a screenshot from video announcing his candidacy for Congress
Clay Aiken, in a screenshot from video announcing his candidacy for Congress
Credit clayaiken.com

Aiken, who is a former runner-up on American Idol made the announcement in a video on his new campaign website.  During the video, he talks about why he made the decision to run.  Aiken tells the story of how his mother, when he was a year old, escaped a violent and abusive father by taking him to the home of  a friend, where the two stayed for 8 months.

He also relates what prompted  him to become a special education teacher for students with autism, and about his time with UNICEF, where, he says, he traveled to "places of heartbreak, like the war zones of Afghanistan and Somalia. Where families were torn apart, and hope was sometimes hard to find."

And although Aiken is a Democrat, he gave a shout-out to former President George W. Bush.  "I'm a Democrat," he says, "But it was when I was appointed by President Bush to serve on a special presidential commission to address the educational challenges of children with special needs -- that was when I realized that our problems won't be solved by only one party or the other. Instead, it's going to require all of us."

If Aiken wins the May Democratic Primary, he will likely face incumbent Representative Renee Ellmers, in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, which covers Moore County, Lee County and parts of Randolph.  He says he believes Ellmers went to Washington with good intentions, but that her votes have harmed the country.  For example, he says, he believes she "voted against the best interests of North Carolina military families."  And, Aiken says, he believes Washington is "dysfunctional."

The 35-year-old Aiken, whose birth name is Clayton Holmes Grissom, according to Wikipedia, was born and raised in Raleigh.  In 2008, after several years of public speculation, he disclosed that he is gay, in an interview with People Magazine

In the May 6 Democratic primary, Aiken will face former North Carolina commerce secretary Keith Crisco of Asheboro and licensed professional counselor Toni Morris of Fayetteville.

Frank Roche, a radio talk show host from Cary, will challenge incumbent Ellmers in the Republican primary.